At least two dozen companies now market “genetic ancestry tests” to help consumers reconstruct their family histories and determine the geographic origins of their ancestors. More than 460,000 people have purchased these tests over the past 6 years (1), still skyrocketing (1–4). Some scientists support this enterprise because it makes genetics accessible and relevant; otHers view it with indifference, seeing the tests as merely “recreational.” However, both scientists and consumers should approach genetic ancestry testing with caution because (i) the tests can have a profound impact on individuals and communities, (ii) the assumptions and limitations of these tests make them less informative than many realize, and (iii) commercialization has led to misleading practices that reinforce misconceptions.

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BOLNICK, Deborah A.; Duana FULLWILEY, Troy DUSTER, Richard S. COOPER, Joan H. FUJIMURA, Jonathan KAHN, Jay S. KAUFMAN, Jonathan MARKS, Ann MORNING, Alondra NELSON, Pilar OSSORIO, Jenny REARDON, Susan M. REVERBY and Kimberly TALLBEAR
(2007). “The science and business of genetic ancestry testing”. Science 318 (5849): 399-400.

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